The XX -XY Sex Chromosomal Mechanism of Sex Determination in Plants
Majority of the flowering plants are monoecious with male and female reproductive parts are borne on the same flowers or different flowers of same plant. Only about 6% of Angiosperms are dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants). The studies of sex determination mechanisms in plants were done only in very few species, such as Coccinia, Asparagus and Melandrium. Melandrium album or Silene latifolia (synonym) is a dioecious model plant in genetics belongs to the Family Caryophyllaceae. The diploid chromosome number of Melandrium album is 24 (n = 12).
This post describes the genetic mechanism of sex determination in Melandrium album or Silene latifolia.
Melandrium album shows sex chromosomal sex determination. They have X and Y sex chromosomal constitution similar to Drosophila and Human. However, the mechanism of sex determination is quite different from the usual XX – XY system. In Melandrium album, the AAXX individuals will be females and AAXY individuals will be males.
The Y chromosome plays a crucial role in the sex determination of Melandrium album. The Y chromosome contains male determining genes and female suppressing genes, both are necessary for the development and maturation of fertile anthers in the male plants. Since the female individuals are homogametic, (produce only one type of gametes – XX constitution) the segregation of X and Y chromosomes occurs only in the male individuals during meiosis.
Usually plants with AAXY chromosomal constitution are males. Sometimes AAXY individuals will be hermaphrodite (bisexual) or androhermaphrodites (forming both bisexual and male flowers on the same individuals). The formation of bisexual individuals in AAXY individuals may be due to the mutation or deletion of the female suppressing genes on the Y chromosome or due to the change in DNA methylation pattern.
Mechanism of sex determination in Melandrium album: